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Sagittaria latifolia (Broadleaf arrowhead)
Brundage, Stephanie

Sagittaria latifolia

Sagittaria latifolia Willd.

Broadleaf Arrowhead, Arrowhead, Duckroot, Duck-potato, Wapato

Alismataceae (Water-Plantain Family)

Synonym(s): Sagittaria chinensis, Sagittaria engelmanniana ssp. longirostra, Sagittaria esculenta, Sagittaria latifolia var. obtusa, Sagittaria latifolia var. pubescens, Sagittaria longirostra, Sagittaria obtusa, Sagittaria ornithorhyncha, Sagittaria planipes, Sagittaria pubescens, Sagittaria variabilis var. obtusa, Sagittaria viscosa

USDA Symbol: sala2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I), PR (N), CAN (N)

Duck-potato or Arrowhead is a colony-forming, aquatic perennial, rising above water level to a height of 3 ft. The long-petioled, emergent leaves are arrowhead shaped. Flowers have showy, white petals and are arranged in a whorled raceme. Arrow-shaped basal leaves surround a taller stalk with small white flowers in whorls of three at ends of short, whorled branches. Sap milky. This aquatic is closely related to Water Plantain. In mud, rhizomes produce starchy tubers, utilized by ducks and muskrats and known as "duck potatoes." The plant was once an important source of food for Native Americans, and "Wapato" is one of the names given to it by the Cree. The genus name comes from sagitta, Latin for "arrow," referring to the shape of the leaves of some species.

Members of the Water-Plantain Family grow in water, in swamps, on muddy banks, or occasionally in wet sand. Each plant has long-petioled leaves in a clump with a flowering stem rising among them. The flowers have 3 green sepals, 3 white or pink-tinged petals, 6 or more stamens, and several pistils. Stamens and pistils may be in separate flowers.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: White, rarely pink tinged.


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , HI , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: S. Canada, s. through N. America; common in c. & e. U.S. & on the Pacific coast; scattered in w. interior
Native Habitat: Still water, Marshes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Aquatic: yes
Soil Description: Mud, Shallow water or fully saturated soils.


Use Ornamental: Water garden, Bog or pond area
Use Wildlife: Arrowhead's underground tubers are preferred by at least fifteen species of ducks and by snapping turtles.
Use Food: Beneath the muck, rhizomes produce edible starchy tubers, utilized by ducks and muskrats and known as duck potatoes."" First Nations are said to have opened muskrat houses to get at their cache of roots. (Niering)"
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Propagation by seed is possible.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.

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Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Research Literature

Reslit 2246 - Germination of macrophytes from a Delaware River tidal freshwater wetland (1996) M. A. Leck
Reslit 2768 - The evolution and maintenance of monoecy and dioecy in Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae) (2002) M. E. Dorken, J. Friedman, S. C. H. Barrett
Reslit 2769 - Variation in germination and survival among families of Sagittaria latifolia in response to salinity and temperature (1994) V. A. Delesalle, S. Blum
Reslit 2770 - Sagittaria biomass partitioning relative to salinity, hydrologic regime, and substrate type: Implications for plant distribution patterns in Coastal Louisiana, United States (2005) S. B. Martin, G. P. Shaffer
Reslit 2771 - Phenotypic plasticity of vegetative and reproductive traits in monoecious and dioecious populations of Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae): a clonal aquatic plant (2004) M. E. Dorken, S. C. H. Barrett
Reslit 2772 - Modification of sex expression in Sagittaria latifolia by the application of gibberellic acid and paclobutrazol (2007) T. Tanimoto
Reslit 2773 - Propagation protocol for broadleaf arrowhead Sagittaria latifolia Willd. (Alismataceae) (2007) L. Hunter-Cario
Reslit 2774 - Pollinator responses to variation in floral display and flower size in dioecious Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae) (2008) M. Glaettli, S. C. H. Barrett
Reslit 2775 - Trade-offs between clonal and sexual reproduction in Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae) scale up to affect the fitness of entire clones (2012) W. E. Van Drunen, M. E. Dorken
Reslit 2776 - Sex determination and the evolution of dioecy from monoecy in Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae) (2004) M. E. Dorken, S. C. H. Barrett

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1991 VOL. 8, NO.3 - Native Plants Provide a Wealth of Foods and Fibers, Letter from the President, A...
Wildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.6 - Wildflower Center Featured Non-Profit in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Dana Leav...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Sagittaria latifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sagittaria latifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sagittaria latifolia


Record Modified: 2023-02-27
Research By: TWC Staff

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